Red Light District, Amsterdam
Photographing Amsterdam during the day or night can get a tourist carried away capturing this vibrant city. However, there are sections of the city that photographs are not wise during the evening hours. This pertains to the famous (or infamous depending on your perspective) Red Light District. DO NOT attempt to photograph the girls in their stalls as they and their handlers do not appreciate it.
In the Red Light District you will see no photo signs everywhere. Girls will beat their glass doors and chase you if you try. And sometimes large burly guys will appear and tell you to stop if you get your camera out. I walked around at one point with a camera around my neck and the lens cover on. I put it in my rucksack after loads of abuse for just having a camera.
Of course DAO gets the shots others are afraid to take! It took me the best part of 2 days to get shots that are not great, but I got them!
Enjoy this series! I even got shouted at for taking pictures of the 'No Photo' signs!
Wanna explore the Redlight District area in Amsterdam on a safe way? Take a guided tour! Haha, that's right, they give tours in this area.
I've beeen in Amsterdam this weekend and bought a tour at: www.amsterdamredlightdistricttour.com
It was very informative, funny and most of all..it was safe!!
The red light district is very famous because of the red windows with prostitutes on the other side.
There are some warnings about this area :
1. Don't take pictures of the girls
2. Don't walk on small alleys alone during the night
3. beware of pickpockets
4. Don't buy drugs on the streets.
The Red Light District is a wonderful place to visit.Sure there are some shady folk, but use your common sense.You really do not get approached by dealers, because they are usually walking up & down saying things like coca, weed, X etc....Just ingore them.If you standing there looking the walk by trying to get eye contact or verbal contact again do not give them the time of day & they will leave you alone.
I go to Amsterdam every year(or I try to).Here are a few helpfull hints if you want to visit the RLD(Red Light District)
First off there are 3 RLD's in Amsterdam.The best & safest is the main one right passed the DAM.Like I stated in the begining pay no attention to the low end pushers or freaks, they want you to react so they can hustle you, so just keep moving & pay no mind.If you get bothered go into a bar, store, coffee shop, food shop just any place with people they won't follow you in.Why would you buy Weed form a street pusher when you can go to a coffee shop & buy it there in a place that is super safe.Again Common Sense.
On my first trip to Amsterdam I already had visions of the RLD as a run down, dirty seedy slummy place to visit.Boy was I worng.During the prime night time hours the place is hoppin.Peppered along with the ladies of the night are bars, coffee shops, hotels resturants, stores, apartments etc.....It's not what most people invision.
You should not really go to the RLD passed 1am unless you are with a group of people.Best time is dusk to 1am.Plenty of people either looking for some action or doing the tourist thing & taking the sites in. I strongly suggest any female not to walk down there alone after hours unless you really know how to handle yourself.Not saying you will be attacked, just you will become a target & to them a possible easy target at that.Common sense tells you even in the States in a big city usually the freaks are out after hours looking to prey.
Same goes for men, don't walk alone down any dark streets drunk or high wondering around.Best thing to do if you feel the need to visit after hours is stick to the main drag.All it is is common sense.
Try not to bring any items of value down there.I make sure my hand is on my wallet at all times when in a crowd.A good pick pocket will ripe you off if you a carless.Remember pick pockets are not just local to the RLD, it's just like any busy city, keep an eye on your stuff & you won't be a target.
The best thing to do is visit the RLD during the day to get to know the in's & out's of the streets down there.Than go back at night & enjoy.Trying to be as familar with your enviorment as you possibly can, doing a tour in tha day is super safe even by your self.
Last tip is a tour is offered (for a price) to take a visit all around the RLD.It is not only the safest way, but best way to become familar with the area.If I remember it's like 10 euro or something around that.
As for me I been down there at all times of the day, never been bothered by anyone.I mind my own business & do not give the freaks or pushers the time of day.I am boring to them so they leave me alone.As for the girls in the windows they usually are opening their doors asking me to come & have some fun.
The RLD is a fun place to visit.Like I said just use your common sense & you will be saying how great that area of Amsterdam really is.
I've seen some comments here that say that "don't go to RDL at night" and so on.. Well, I must say that wether you're a guy or a girl the only way to relly experience the RDL is at night. Hell, you don't even see those oh-so-famous lights during daytime. I've been to this great city for a couple of times and I do not find it dangerous. Amsterdam is propably one of the safest cities I've been to around the world consideing its' size and reputation.
But as it's been said here a lot of times, do not take pictures in RDL. If you want to take pictures of this area, try to do it during day but I would consider that too.. In any case don't take pictures of the girls in the windows unless you're happen to hold world record in 400m dash. There are signs telling you not to take pictures and believe them. And keep in mind that these girls are working, how would you like people coming to your work place to take pictures? I know I wouldn't. And even though many people think that these girls are illegal immigrants that's not quite true. Since prostitution is legal in Holland and prostitutes have to pay taxes it means most of them are registered some way. And there girls are required to be tested for STDs regurlary so they're clean too. Of course you have to use a condom (I haven't used these services myself but I know this is true) and why wouldn't you. Most of the people are smart enough to use a condom every time they're having se with a stranger and this is not an exception.
There are also a lot of people walking around the streets in RDL and most of them are tourists, so it is pretty safe place and there is nothing to be worried about. I've been to smallest and darkest allies in the RDL and I didn't find even them dangerous. Use your common sense and you'll be fine. If you're walking around the place drunk as hell and stoned you're an easy target for anyone. But I still don't find Amsterdam dangerous and none of the people I know who's been to Amsterdam have ever experienced any violence, and I know a lot of people who've visited the city.
And if you don't like weed and judge smoking it, don't go to Amsterdam. Especially in the RDL the smell of weed is unbelieveble! All you smell is weed smoke. I don't mean that you need to be a smoker to go to Amsterdam, but if you're against it I'd suggest you to go somewhere else or to stay at home. Travel safe!
Apart from the weird crowd that may make you feel a bit on the edge (the homeless people sleeping on the street corners and begging on the streets, the alcies, the narcs and the like), Amsterdam is a safe city. The homeless people are often harmless and will leave you alone, if you leave them alone as well.
The red-light district (around the Oude Kerk) can be a bit dodgy at night and some people will try to offer illegal drugs to you –especially if you are male and look people in the eyes. However, there are also always lots of tourists around, so there is no need to avoid going to the area entirely, but it's good to keep this sort of stuff in mind.
Don't try to photograph the women in the red-light district though. The angry pimps might come and get you for taking free photos – you pay for the services, right? ;-) Officially, pimping is illegal, but who knows what happens in practice..
I think a trip-one or two- are worth taking just to see the show. It is for free, but do not take pictures. Someone may come out of the booth/house and chase you down, and do not gawk. So then, what is the attraction? Tourists walk slowly up one side of the street and down the other and keep theri head down so as not to stare, or be noticed. Well, that is not my idea of fun. It is pretty sleezy and feels dingy on the streets, and would not venture into some of the establishments for a drink, or whatever. Wtch out for bumping and your wallet walking away.
Having read a few comments and noticed the dates on them, I thought I'd add an up-to-date one of my own having just returned from a trip to Amsterdam.
The city as a whole is a wonderfully laid-back and beautiful place where you can stroll along canals, take a cruise, sit outside a cafe and watch the world go by etc, and then there's the red light district.
Many of the comments have gone along the lines of 'avoid eye contact', 'walk on by quickly' and so on but in my experience over the last few days, this needn't be the case.
I was offered drugs on the street at least half a dozen times on one evening; on the first occasion a single man peeled off as a group passed me and he was offering the drugs. He stood a little close for comfort and spoke quietly and my first reaction was to check over my shoulder for his companions (surrounding me for intimidation? or setting me up for pickpocketing?) but the truth is they'd sauntered on, oblivious.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I politely declined the dealer's offer and he'd smiled, said OK and wished me a good night - but better still, this was the pattern I found each time someone tried selling me anything.
Maybe in times gone by there would have been more of a 'hard-sell' but nothing of the sort last week. Could be that the dealers realise, if they *** tourists off and give the place a bad name, the police will crack down on them like never before. As it happened, the offers were polite and my thanks but no thanks reply met with manners and a cheery 'enjoy your holiday' type of comment.
All of this aside, I'd still keep my wallet or purse close to your person if I were you - not in a jacket pocket or handbag, for instance. Plan for the worst, ie someone IS going to try and pick your pocket, think about it and make that as difficult as possible for any would-be thief. Keep your wits about you and I'm sure you'll have as good a time taking in the sights of this district as much as any of the others in this great city.
The red light district is certainly an interesting walking tour. My advice is to do it with friends, or during the daylight hours.
I was walking around at about 7pm, when a guy came up and told me to give him all of my money. I looked him in the eye and told him to get lost. He proceeded to grab my arm. For his troubles I ended up breaking his nose. I was a welterweight boxer in my youth (so I do not look intimidating, as I am not tall, and fairly thin), so he just picked the wrong guy. He had 2 friends hanging back watching this, and when they saw this happen, they first tried to come towards me. I dropped my jacket to the floor, put up my fists, and started dancing around with a little boxing ring footwork. I dont think my reaction was what they intended. The loser with the broken nose who thought it a good idea to grab me started to get up off the floor. I decided he should stay down until the police came. They arrested him, and told me I shouldnt have hit him. They were polite, and a little amused, but still felt strongly that I should have just screamed. I dislike thieves. I really dont care for thieves who want to prey on me. Getting physical was probably stupid, but I know how rare guns are in Holland, so I gambled. You shouldnt do this though. Just dont go over there alone, looking like a total gawking tourist, at 10pm. It was my mistake.
Ok, it may seem an obvious remark, but it works for stupid people like me!!
So, don't try to take a picture (or even worse, to shoot!) of Red Light Districts' Stars! Don't even think about that or they will start crying and beating on their french doors! :P
Yes, I'm that stupid! :D
During my short stay in Amsterdam the Red Light District was very "entertaining". Girls in the windows, guys bold enough to make deals, friends laughing nervously, couples smiling, and the tour groups made up of all kinds being shown the business of skin made the district quite an experience.
There were drug dealers a plenty which are easy to ignore and continue walking but what I couldn't believe was witnessing a drug deal go bad. Two guys were buying something from a dealer and were upset that what they wanted is not what they got. A bit of arguing for a minute and then the dealer gave the money back and the parties shook hands! What?
I am certainly not condoning drug use or the ease in which to get it in Amsterdam, I'm just pointing out the friendly attitude of the city, even in the "darkest places."
If you think you are going to Disneyworld,stay away. This is sex and drugs we are talking about. Don't go if you are a prude or slightly closed minded. Just look forward and don't even acknowledge the dealers. The natives don't condone anything harder than weed. I went on a Sunday afternoon and only saw two porkers in the windows. I guess a Saturday night is better to go.
After touring the Red Light District, I noticed that there were a host of drug dealers and loiterers hanging out. Then all of sudden I saw the local police arrest a chap (for reasons unknown to me) who almost made an escape while handcuffed. As this was obvious evidence of underworld activity going on, I decided to take notice. This was not a good place to explore after dark. In fact I recall the host on the Pilot Guides TV series actually get mugged here on camera. So be on guard.
I did a little research about this topic of crime in Amsterdam and I found out that the murder rate is surprisinly high when compared to my own hometown. I suspect this is probably a carry over from the drug trade which is quite active.
Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam and the Red Light District is its epicenter. If you are conservative or are traveling with children, be warned. The prostitution and other sex-related business in the Red Light District are fairly blatant and out in the open. If you do not want to have to answer the resulting questions from your kids (Why is that woman sitting in the window in her underwear?, etc.), then don't visit that area of the city with the entire family.